Deem Hill Summit • Deem Hills
• City of Phoenix
• Maricopa County


The summit ridge as seen from the parking area
 

Approaching the high pass along the Ridgeline Trail
 

A northwest view from the summit, with Pyramid Peak in the background, and a balloon
 

Zoom of the balloon
 

Southwest view of the parking area, with Ludden Mountain in the background
 

View of the summit outcrop, looking into the morning sun
 

View of the summit ridge from below, with that big saguaro visible again
 

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Date: October 18, 2015 • Elevation: 2,100 feet • Prominence: 500 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 600 feet • Conditions: Cloudy and humid

The Deem Hills are a series of rocky volcanic hills that run for about five miles in north Phoenix, north of Happy Valley Road and partially cut by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Canal. The highest point of the Deem Hills is atop Pyramid Peak. However, that was not my goal for today. Instead, I wanted a lower summit within the city-run Deem Hills Park, a place I had never explored until today.

I left before dawn, and followed Loop-101 west to the 51st Avenue exit ... which proved to be a mistake. I assumed it went north to the Deem Hills (the 51st Avenue alignment runs by its western edge). Instead, I had to drive slowly through a suburban development before catching another boulevard north. This detour cost me about 15 minutes. Once back on 51st Avenue, I followed it to Happy Valley Road, then north through the light, where the road becomes Stetson Valley Road. I followed this to Deem Hills Parkway, and to the main parking lot at the park, which was easy to find. I rolled in about 7 a.m., the lot already nearly full. There are some fenced dog runs here, and not surprisngly, a lot of dogs.

I started hiking a little after 7 a.m.. The morning was pleasantly cool, with puffy clouds hiding the sun. A storm had passed through yesterday, and would again later today. For now, we had about a 20-hour window of dryness, although the air was humid. Nevertheless, it was pleasant and very comfortable.

I walked past the dog runs and caught the Circumference Trail, following it east as it traversed below the main summit ridge. The hills are volcanic, and basalt boulders are everywhere. The summit ridge featured three distinct rock outcrops. I continued on the Circumference Trail to a pass, then found the Ridgeline Trail, which turned west and started a long traverse uphill, aiming for another pass on the main summit ridge. Now, the summits were south of me.

I arrived to the pass after 40 minutes, took a small break, then started the off-trail hike to the tops. I walked uphill aiming for a small cliff, which was easy to scale. This put me on the western rock outcrop (I "define" the three summit outcrops to be east of where the trail surmounts the ridge. There are two others west of this point, clearly lower).

On this western outcrop, I could see the slightly-higher outcrop about 500 feet east. I descended to the saddle below, then up to this second outcrop. one small portion requiring hands to get up an easy gully. And in moments, I was on top. I spent about five minutes looking around and snapping photographs. The sun would break out to give good low light for photos, then hide again. A bunch of hot-air balloons were floating over the desert to the north, with one getting a little close to our humble range.

The topographic map shows a 2,098-foot spot elevation on the easternmost outcrop, and a tiny 2,100-foot contour immediately to the west. From where I stood, I could see a pole atop the 2098-foot peaklet, but I was clearly higher where I was, atop the 2100-foot bump, the vertical difference about 3 to 5 feet. The map does not show the western outcrop. To my eyes, that one is lower by about 5 feet.

I descended the way I came and was back on the trail at the pass quickly, my off-trail segment covering about twenty minutes. To here, I had gained about 600 vertical feet in about a mile and a half of hiking. I could have returned the way I came, but opted to continue on the Ridgeline Trail and follow it back to the Circumference Trail, then follow that around the north side of the small range. This would add a mile to my journey, but the day was lovely, and I knew this would likely be my only time here, so I followed it and had a very enjoyable hike.

I was back to my truck after another hour. I changed into dry clothes and watched the dogs drag their owners to the dog runs. They're so funny: they know this is where they can play and meet other dogs, and they can't get there fast enough!

On the drive home, I detoured ever-so-slightly to scout Ludden Mountain, a steeper mound of basalt rock about a mile to the southwest. There seems to be no official trail, but the east slope looks promising. I may come back to hike this some day. There are also other smaller peaks in the range, so I will return periodically. I was happy to come this way to visit a part of Phoenix I never normally bother with.

(c) 2015 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.